- Mental Health
Fidget Spinners: Don't We Have Our Own That Are Far Cheaper?
Pen Clicking And Twirling Is A Lot Cheaper
Once upon a time, there were claims that giving your kids things to keep their hands occupied during class time would help them focus on the task at hand. There was this crazy belief that, in putting a pen in one hand and using the other to keep the sheet that said kid was writing on still was almost enough to keep their eyes on the prize - the prize being good marks and ultimately, admission to a good school and further successes in the future.
Then a select group became highly skilled at twirling pens and pencils in their hands while thinking, writing, marking, and so forth. I have always been envious of such individuals, believing them to be of such a skill level to be akin to gods, as any time I have ever tried to twirl a pen over my finger it has generally dropped flawlessly to the floor or, occasionally, gone flying across the room. Twirling one's writing stick is a skill that has eluded me, but I have long since appreciated the talent as it is noiseless and does not disturb me insofar as the general flow of my classroom operations are concerned.
Then, I heard it.
The telltale whirr of a fidget spinner.
I'd heard of the devices previously; my two daughters are in elementary school and as a result have seen fidget spinners around school. I've had the various types described to me, with exorbitant price ranges also described. Some have claimed there are various benefits to the devices for children with a range of health issues, including ADHD.
I'm not a psychiatrist or a psychologist, and I don't claim to be one. On the one hand, I have seen the benefits of having a fidget toy of some shape or creation for those who simply need something to help keep them grounded. Kids with autism have also had some sort of fidget toy.
I fail to see how a fidget spinner helps with anything, particularly now with news of various pieces of the spinners popping off the devices and young children somehow ingesting them and getting them lodged. Any time I've seen kids even attempt to use them, it's always with both hands - one to hold, and one to spin. If it's meant as a device to help kids focus, why does the design seem to inherently require the use of both hands?
Or maybe that's my own poor coordination trying to see how it works in my head.
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It. Is Not. A Therapy!
Dr. Dave Anderson, a clinical psychologist who specializes in treatment for ADHD and behavior disorders, said in his op-ed for Business Insider that this is simply a craze that is no different than the slime craze that occurred earlier in 2017.
"There's no universal recommendations of a particular toy for stress relief or a particular object for stress relief," he wrote. "Fidget spinners have absolutely no scientific studies behind them, showing any sort of effectiveness in treating this. And the major reason for that is that they're a fad."
The thing of it is, while I understand that everyone needs a little help at times to help them focus on the crux of a matter or whatever the case might be, what happened to trying to manage some of that on our own? Wasn't that why we started twirling pens in the first place while we were working?
A quick Amazon search turns up the phrasing "ADD, ADHD, Anxiety, and Autism Adult Children." As Dr. Anderson rightfully points out, however, there has been nothing which actively condones the use of fidget spinners as a means of combatting anxiety or stress in general.
The other thing is, we have a tendency to be a society of bandwagon jumpers. If something promises something that seems good for you, you're going to want to be getting onto it double quick. We don't do the work we should, often enough, to determine whether or not something will work for someone we know with mental health conditions or cognitive challenges. We don't ask the questions we need to ask before simply picking something up and saying to our kid "here ya go" and then placing appropriate conditions on the thing's use.
Kids need frequent reminders of when, where and how to do something and simply giving them something to use to help keep them focused just "whenever" with little to no explanation as to when and how the thing is supposed to be used is going to lead to the issues that are cropping up in some classrooms.
More often than not, there are kids using these fidget spinners as a way to mess around in class than actually focussing on the task at hand, and because they're often too busy spinning that they can't at least get started on any assigned tasking, they completely lose the thread of what they're supposed to be doing.
So why aren't we keeping these devices home?
While I realize that kids will transport things to school without their parents' or guardians' knowledge, there are restrictive measures that need to be put in place if a child is going to have this or any other fidget toy in the classroom.
The biggest thing they can do is give kids the guidelines as to when the spinners should be used, and kids should be taken to task and told that if they do not respect the guidelines by which they must operate their spinners, they will lose them. "Guidelines?" you ask.
Like you can only use the spinner when you've got everything done. Or it can't be seen during class time. Or you can only bring the really cheap ones.
Or we can even teach our kids how to manage distractability without the whozits and whatsits aplenty. That might be cheaper still.